ANDY Maciver’s demand that we look beyond “our island” (as he puts it) for examples of systems which work better than the NHS “while still delivering universal state-funded care” (“We all admire NHS workers but we have to admit our health service needs reform”, The Herald, April 14) entirely misses the point. We don’t have universal state-funded care.

The present crisis has shone a spotlight on the particular problems faced by the residents of care homes and nursing homes, many of whom are effectively trapped there. The anguish felt by them and their families could well be compounded by the fact that, in many cases, their life savings are being eroded by the charges they have to pay – charges which help to swell the profits of the owners of what are basically private commercial businesses.

This is not to question the concern or dedication shown by those owners and all others involved; and the great love, courage and skill shown by all those working there is of course unaffected by their ownership. However, it is clearly wrong that this part of healthcare (which is needed for both mental and physical chronic illness and incapacity) should have to be funded out of the often hard-earned savings (and, eventually, the homes) of those who are randomly struck down in this way. In any case, inequalities of wealth and income are best tackled by the tax system, out of which care should be funded, rather than in this arbitrary and haphazard way. I believe there is an unanswerable case for the integration of this whole field into the NHS, and for it to be entirely state-funded. Work on this needs to start now.

Michael Otter, Kinlochbervie.

I FIND it incredible that there is no system whereby doctors can report each death certificate they issue, along with the primary and contributory causes of death. The whole farcical situation we are being treated to currently in which governments are telling us they need to wait for the death to be registered in order to know when/where and how it happened seems to be inexcusable.

When this crisis started, a suitably secure web page could have been established and doctors could have been required to enter the relevant details within 24 hours of signing a death certificate. I’m sure NHS Scotland has the ability to make this work. The statistics would generate themselves without all the current delay and confusion.

In a country that seems to have ignored the requirement for adequate testing for far too long, a system such as this would at least provide some slight improvement on the speed, quality and quantity of data on which decisions can be made.

Cameron Crawford, Rothesay.

IT was encouraging to read that Dr Graham Kemp and others are critical of the UK response to the Covid-19 crisis (Letters, April 14). The early signs in January that this Government was either experiencing poor advice or ignoring advice from professional advisers was so stark I was shocked. All our o- called intelligentsia seem able to do is apply their university education to using complex mathematical modelling of death rate predictions.

The suggestion that the people of the UK would somehow be expected to acquire what was referred to as “ herd immunity” seemed to me to be more to do with eugenics than actively fighting off the Covid-19 virus. The proposal certainly smelled of accepting the concept of the “survival of the fittest”.

I find it ironic that the symbol of the UK Parliament is a portcullis. Our dithering Government would not put up a fight at the gate under attack and certainly left the drawbridge down when it should have pulled it up in January. Boris Johnson returned from holiday in Mustique and discovered within days what was about to happen to the nation if he passively did nothing – no major testing programme; no active tracing of contacts.

Emperor Augustus organised the “corps de vigiles” to keep a constant watch for fires in ancient Rome and they protected the city for 500 years. Who was looking out for the threat of a major virus in the UK? Where were our graduates in epidemiology to shout the hue and cry? Did they skip the lecture telling them that in Scotland alone 10,000 died from a cholera pandemic in the 1830s? The situation is not unprecedented globally, as the science of the horror of pandemics is a well know field of public health. Ebola was out of control in West Africa this decade was this a lesson learned?

The huge advantage of being a relatively small island was lost early on and even by mid-March we were still allowing the Cheltenham Gold Cup to go ahead. This illustrates how lacking in urgency our Government has been. A Royal Commission is called for to investigate this Government’s handling of the emergency and make recommendations when it is all over.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

I WISH politicians would stop using the line “we’re all in this together” when it comes to Covid-19. This is simply not true and is a myth that must be immediately quashed.

Far from being the great leveller, Covid will increase existing inequalities and is in fact already doing so. Those who suffered from the last Crash, the young, the low-paid and those living precarious lifestyles will suffer most again.

While many of us can work from home and self-isolate, it is these individuals who are often in the Covid frontline, be it as hospital porters, care workers, cleaners, supermarket workers or delivery drivers. This leaves them more exposed to the Covid virus and more vulnerable to being made redundant and not being furloughed.

They rent while the wealthier own their homes, and they spend more of their income on necessities, leaving them vulnerable to sudden income falls. Middle-class children can play in gardens, a luxury not afforded to many living in high-rises, exacerbating mental health problems. And for those in families where education is maybe not seen as a priority, this further exacerbates already existing inequalities.

The next time therefore a politician says “we are all in this together”, remember that for some Covid is an incredible inconvenience but for many it is absolutely disastrous.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh EH9.

IN Jim Proctor’s letter (April 16) regarding isolation hospitals, he says “we certainly were not ready for this one”. The only reason we were not ready was because the Westminster Government ignored its own researchers’ advice when it was told by countless sources that the threat was from disease, not nuclear weapons. Since the people in charge are career politicians, who know nothing about ordinary life for ordinary people, and are only interested in short-term policies to increase their popularity, it is time to change from top-down government to Citizens’ Assemblies.

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.

IAIN Macwhirter may be correct about Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to Covid-19 (“Sturgeon may win the war while losing a political battle”, The Herald, April 15) but the fact of the matter is that Scotland is not independent. Ms Sturgeon does not have the power

that the rulers of comparable small countries do. She has to tread carefully in dealing with the “all-knowing” and “all-powerful” Westminster establishment who can make things very difficult for Scotland during this crisis.

The First Minister has done a sterling job during this pandemic, showing untiring leadership when it’s been needed most. It’s a pity that she does not have appreciation and encouragement from the many media and press journalists whose questions she answers every day.

Compare that to elsewhere.

David Egdoll, Giffnock.

ONE positive aspect of the present situation is the fact that the usual political bickering seems to be in lockdown, too. It reminds me of the times before we were all subjected to the daily dose of constitutional or Brexit-related argument. Thankfully, most of our politicians, whatever their creed, are focussed on the current health crisis which requires a joint effort for the greater good.

Yet some seem to suffer from withdrawal symptoms and try to bring constitutional division back to public attention by associating it with Covid-19. Apparantly both SNP MP Angus MacNeil and MSP Jackson Carlaw used the pandemic and the way it is dealt with on a UK level for scoring points for their respective camps.

While people in all parts of the UK, in Europe and beyond become desperately ill, die and are mourned by their families and friends, political tit for tat is out of place and out of touch. What is needed now is generosity and solidarity. Leave the rest for another day.

Regina Erich, Stonehaven.

GIVEN that all we hear about today from all forms of media is depressing, morbid and makes you just want to stay in bed, I wonder if your headline writer for today’s front page (April 15) considered “Nine in 10 Scots will keep their job due to lockdown”.

After all, the so-called experts also state that the economy will recover very quickly, so by implication the one in 10 jobs lost would return pretty soon after lockdown ends.

The negative aspect of a story always seems to trump the positive ... just saying.

James Martin, Bearsden.

I CAN only hope that as we emerge from this crisis, apart from remembering the many people and companies who helped us and our communities, I trust that we will also remember those who didn’t. Although I don’t want to see a boycott list set up, I trust that when this crisis is over we will all have long memories and favour those who went the extra mile, or is it two metres?

Alan Stephen, Glasgow G44.

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